Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Soviet View of the Uwanda-Mugabia War

In the hours following Uwanda's initial advance, word of the results were conveyed to Soviet and Cuban leadership through their advisors and various other pipelines of communication.  Soviet satellites offered indisputable evidence of Mugabia's failings.  The result is that both Soviet and Cuban leadership had a much better understanding of the day's events, than did the Mugabian president.

"Welcome comrade General; it is good to see you again", said the Soviet Ambassador, as the General entered his office.  The General and the Ambassador were seated as the assistant poured their drinks.  The general was always a welcome guest, as the two men had long been both friends and associates, though the issue at hand was less than favorable.

"So, the fool has gotten himself into a .. situation."  said the general. 

"Yes, it seems that he has ignored our intelligence and our advice, and was unprepared for the scope of Uwanda's attack.  Though unprepared, his ground forces should be sufficient to manage the situation, but it seems that even we have underestimated the capability of Uwanda's air force.  In little time, Mugabia's army will be at the mercy of Uwandan air supremacy.  He doesn't realize it yet, but Mugabia's situation is critical." shared the Ambassador.  "His over-confidence has been compounded by the Cuban's enthusiasm."

The general frowned, took a sip of his vodka, and reflected," Once again, the dedication of our Cuban friends has dragged us into an African war.  Moscow does not favor these events at this time, but I fear that the events will dictate Moscow's actions."

The two men continued their discussion, listing the current options, and details of each relative to the current circumstances.  The most hopeful was that Moscow and the ambassador could manipulate a  political agreement to end the current conflict, but unless the situation could be tied to events elsewhere, resulting in external pressures from the other side, there was no reason for Uwanda to stop.

Other considerations were to overthrow the fool president of Mugabia, and install a different and hopefully more... cooperative leader in the democratic republic.  And/or, to simply give Mugabia what it needed to win: more tanks, more planes, and given the situation, Russian planes and pilots.

That last step would be tricky.  Moscow was concerned that even with Cuban pilots, Mugabia would not take the right steps to win, but with Russian pilots, Moscow could more forcibly direct the war.  The question was whether or not the West would counter the move directly.  Africa was not the Soviet Union's back doorstep, as was Afghanistan.  The west was heavily invested in Uwanda, and this was a strange place to risk turning the Cold War hot.

There was of course, the option to simply let the war follow its own path, let the fool be consumed, and watch Mugabia fall.  This was probably the most sensible path, but politically, was the least acceptable.  The ambassador saw no way that Uwanda could win, and a socialist Mugabia could remain.

It was agreed that the ambassador would roll his diplomatic dice, and Moscow would act as they needed.  The two friends then turned their discussion to one of grandchildren, and enjoyed the rest of their afternoon.

Friday, August 18, 2017

AAR27: The Air Battle for Objective B5, Part 2

(Note:  This is a continuation of the air battle described in AAR25, which I recently discovered has disappeared from my blog, apparently due to some sort of error on blogger .  I haven't been able to find my notes on the battle over these last few days, but will reconstitute the AAR, when I do.  From  memory, I believe the results were that Uwanda won control over objective B5 by shooting down two Mugabian Mig 15s with a pair of F5s).

As the battle of Objective B5 took place on the ground, Uwanda's F5s continued to patrol the skies over the battlefield, while ground attack aircraft assisted the Uwandan advance.  Due to Mugabia's significant air combat losses, some time passed before Mugabia could get additional air assets to the area.

Though the issue on the ground at B5 was never in much dispute, Mugabia's presence in the air might at least reduce the threat to the withdrawing Mugabian ground forces.  To accomplish this, two Mig21s and a single Mig17 engaged the six F5s (four A models and two E models) that were protecting the airspace over the battlefield.

The Mig21s were coming in relatively high and fast, and the F5Es were directed to them quickly.  The Mig 17 was coming in on a different vector at mid altitude.  It was sited at 5 miles out, while it sited two of the F5s at four miles.

In addition to the six F5s closing with the enemy, two additional F5As, each still armed with a single missile and gun, continued to cover the battlefield, in case any additional Mugabian aircraft showed up.

This second air battle took place a little east and slightly north of Objective B5.  Mugabian air controllers tried to use the Mig17 to draw off as many F5s as possible, in hopes that the Mig21s would have some effect early on. 

The two F5Es closed with the Mig21s, both got good tones with their Aim9L Sidewinder missiles and fired, probably a little farther out than would be advisable.  The Mig21s continued to close with the missiles and F5Es.  Several seconds after launch, as the Sidewinders closed with the Mig21s, both maneuvered away from the inbound missiles, dropping flares the entire way.

The F5s have just fired Sidewinders in the distance.
Surprisingly, both missiles hit their targets, with instant catastrophic explosions killing both pilots. 

Both Migs are hit. 

The Mig17, able to see the fireballs in the distance,  instantly turned away from the closing F5As, and dove to gain more speed.  The Battle for the air at Objective B5 was over with Uwanda destroying four Mugabian aircraft, and Mugabia destroying none.

That was a short game, almost two turns on the table.  Given the relatively poor performance in previous battles, the sudden kills by the Sidewinders took me quite by surprise, and was something of a letdown in all honesty.  I expected at least a few minutes furball, with maybe one Mig shot down, and with any luck an F5 injured or destroyed.

Despite somewhat inconsistent performance, the AIM9L poses a distinct problem in the hands of Uwanda's air force, putting the Mig21 at a technological disadvantage to the F5, as well as now being significantly out-numbered.   Once all of the ground battles are resolved for this strategic turn, I will have to consult the political tables.  This could cause some interesting wrinkles in the game.

Sorry for the terrible photos, I'm hoping to fix some of the problems, before the next air battle (painting the bases to reduce contrast/brightness issues, and finally getting a real table cover for starters.)

Monday, August 14, 2017

AAR26: Surprise in the North

Though word had reached Colonel Aladwa about the Uwandan attack to the south, he had been guaranteed that Uwanda was just posturing here in the north.  But his intuition had been right, and when the Uwanda's Centurions started to cross the river, he was not surprised. His force was not well equipped to deal with such heavy weapons, and he had wisely dispersed his infantry throughout the town to try to defend it like a fort. Delaying Uwanda's victory was the best that he hoped for.

Uwanda's northern and primary advance started at Objective B5 a small town just across the river from objective A37. 

A Uwandan view of the battlefield looking east...

...and the Mugabian view looking west.

Uwanda's attacking force consisted of:

Combined Arms Team 7:
2x Saracen HQ
8x Centurion III (two pltn of 4 tanks)
13x Saracen (Mech Inf Coy)
2x Wombat/Landrover (AT section)
4x M7 Priest and AOP
3x Saldin (Recce Pltn)

Close Air Support:
2x G91 w/ 500lb bombs
4x Strikemasters with Rocket pods

Mugabian Forces at B5 included:

2x GAZ Jeep (HQ)
11x BTR152 (Infantry Coy)
2x ZU23/Truck
2x85mm Gun/Truck
3x 122 mort.
3x Infantry in truck (Inf Pltn reinforcing from Objective B6 garrison)

The bridge crossing the river at objective B5.

The Uwandan commander decided to advance his armor around the town to the north, closing off any escape, while pounding on the enemy with his arty and air support.  Once the Armor was in position, his infantry would advance, pushing the Mugabians into the armored net.

One of the Uwanda's Saladins, leading the way into Mugabia.

The advance started clumsily enough with the Saldins of the recce platoon taking an early loss to an RPG just after crossing the river.  The Saladins did their job, identifying the Mugabian infantry along the north of the town, and stumbling into the second line of defense (and RPGs) well east of the town.  The Saladins died heroes of Uwanda, and all would be decorated posthumously.

First blood at objective B5, a Uwandan Saladin hit by an RPG.

As soon as the Mugabian infantry had been detected, the command post on top of the Olympic Hotel, located in Objective A37 on the Uwanda side of the river, ordered artillery to start dropping on the Mugabian infantry.  Between the wrath of the angry Priests, and the advancing Centurions, the infantry were quickly reduced and in retreat.

Centurions advance to the north of objective B5.

From the start of the Uwandan advance, Mugabian infantry had been taking shots at the Uwandan command post personnel on the rooftop of the hotel, but only succeeded in wounding one man.  Eventually mortar file began to drop on the CP and after a few rounds, found the mark killing most of the battlefield HQ and the AOP.  This resulted in the temporary loss of Uwanda's artillery support.

A surviving major did his best, collecting his nuggets, and then ordering his loitering air support into action.  Unfortunately the first G91 was hit by a ZU23 and killed before it could release any bombs, while Strikemasters searched for the Mugabian mortars and other forces east of the objective B5, also losing one of their number in the process.

The Centurions continued their eastward advance, destroying everything in sight, and brushing off harassing mortar fire. The leading (and tracked by an RPG) Centurion singlehandedly took on and forced the retreat of the Mugabian second line east of the town, while a Magister finally quieted the mortar files with rockets.

Centurions continue their advance around the north side of the town.

At the appointed time, the Uwandan infantry began their advance to the south of the town, and by this time, the Priests had rejoined the fight, pounding the center of the town.  Depsite the best efforts of Colonel Aladwa, he could not maintain the control of his overwhelmed forces, and they began to flee in a disorganized manner.

Uwandan infantry mounted in Saracens preparing to cross the
river to the south of the town.

When he felt that nothing more could be achieved, the Colonel ordered a withdrawal, that was largely unheard by his already panicking forces.

A view from the Uwandan side of the river.

The Centurions looped around the town cutting off much of the retreat, destroying or capturing most of the Mugabian forces.

Uwanda's armor closing the deal.

As the Colonel and part of his staff fled from objective B5, he considered what had been gained by the destruction of his force, and whether he might have been better off meeting the victors.

The battle consisted of a terrible mismatch, and though the battle was mostly decided prior to the start, there were some interesting events that took place.  The downing of two aircraft by ZU23s was  surprise, as was losing the Uwandan HQ, which slowed progress for a few turns.  In the end, there was little that the Mugabian forces could do though.

Mugabian losses were steep:
95 troops lost (64KIA, 31 captured)
2x 85mm Guns
2x ZU23/2
6x Trucks
2x GAZ69
7x BTR 152

Uwandan losses:
1x Universal Carrier
1x Saracen
3x Saladin
5x KIA
1x Centurion tracked

Captured by Uwanda:
31 POW (15WIA)
2x BTR152
2x truck
1x GAZ 69

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Mesa (Part 2 of 2)

Well, it has been a long time coming, but I finally got the basic parts of 'The Mesa" done.  It will serve as a post apocalyptic residence in my games, with a storyline of history involving multiple occupants over time.  More on that later.

For now, I'll share some photos of the mesa with its various bits, including a roof/canopy, solar panel and power supply, crates and ammo boxes, a cook fire, and various pots/pans and other belongings, and a hoist to get all of this to the top of the mesa.  There is a retractable ladder facilitating access to the residence.  Other bits will be added as needed. Here are some in progress pics:
The roof was made mostly from bass wood with a few styrene panels.
Most other bits were styrene construction, and parts from the bits box.
Close up of resin supply and ammo boxes; solar panel,
battery, and power converter; and table and utensils.
A view showing the arrangement of the ladders, the lower one
 can be hoisted off of the ground to reduce access by pests.
View showing the complete roof, prior to paint. 
The hoist is located to the right.
More bits.
And with bits painted:
The ladders and hoist.
A couple of overhead views above and below.
With the roof removed.

Other stuff will be added for the various residents and scenarios, but that is the basic mesa.  I have some steel grey thread to use for the cable of the hoist, but one of the cats knocked the spool off of the table earlier, and I can't find it.  As soon as it turns up, I'll add the cable and hook.

Now I can get my table back for gaming.


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Star Fleet Battles Fleets: Kzintis

As our general war campaign will start with the Lyrans and Kzintis, I figured that I should make some progress on the respective fleets.  So I placed an order with ADB for the core of a Kzinti fleet, a battle station, and a couple Lyran ships.

Adding the Kzinti BC and FF that I already had waiting for paint, and the CM and FF that I already finished, this yields a fleet of 14 vessels.  Additionally, I completed about 30 fighters, using models from GZG.  Here are a few pix:

The entire Kzinti fleet.
Close-up of the Tug and a strike carrier.
Battle cruisers, CVE, and medium cruiser.
Some of the GZG fighters.

The painting is done, but decals will have to wait, as I'm semi-broke for the time being.  I'll need bolster the Lyran fleet also, before getting decals, so probably going to October or there abouts, before decals get ordered.

I haven't settled completely on the bases for the ships, as those included with the ADB ships have posts that are too small to fit the holes in the bottom of most of the ship models.  Most of the bases shown above are from my 1980s castings.  I will probably use the ADB bases with appropriately sized brass posts replacing the plastic pins for the smaller ships, and use my own resin cast bases (like the white one in the foreground of the top photo) for the larger ships, as it has a slightly larger footprint, than the ADB bases.  I intend to paint all of the bases black to match the fighters.

Another unresolved issue, is how to label the bases.  I am currently hoping to use either small stickers or press apply type letters and numbers to identify the ships by class.  Currently, I am still searching for the option requiring the least work.

While I think the fighters are small enough to convey a reasonable and obvious indication of their role, the models are probably about ten to twenty times too larger for the 1/3788 scale of the ships.  These were about the smallest size (generally not more than 3/8ths of an inch in their largest dimension) models that I thought manageable as individually based fighters.  ADB does make some fighters for most of the empires, but don't have enough different models to represent the variety of fighter types that we want to use in the campaign.  GZG's models are nice, priced right, and provide the variety that we need.

In time I hope to add patrol gunboats or pseudo-fighters (PFs) as we're not supposed to call them. I noticed that ADB now offer Klingon G1s through Shapeways, and I am hoping that by the time we reach the introduction date of PFs, that ADB will offer PFs for more of the empires.  If not, I'll just scratch-build them.  I'm expecting these to be in yet another scale placing them between the ship and fighter scales, and resulting in models bigger than fighters, and smaller than frigates.

Next up are the few Lyrans that I have, and updating my old Romulans (until I can afford to order more Lyrans).

Friday, July 7, 2017

Klingon D7 Battlecruisers for Star Fleet Battles

I completed three Klingon D7 battlecruisers for use in Star Fleet Battles.  These are the Lou Zocchi models, conveniently cast in a single piece.  I used Vallejo 964 Field Blue as the base hull color and painted them according to my old Starline 2200 instruction sheets.  The Decals are from Jupiter IV, are very nice quality and easy to use, but unfortunately that dark hull color dulls them down considerably.

In addition to the D7s, I finish some F5 frigates from Amarillo Design Bureau.

This gives me eleven Klingon ships, plus I have 24 fighters in process.  My Klingon fleet is expanding, but still needs some help.

I have a CV on the paint table, but my old Klingon (and Kzinti) miniatures which I stripped the paint off of have some lead rot, and appear to be a lost cause.  It is odd, as the miniatures were purchased years apart, but only the Klingons and Kzintis suffer from the problem.  The Feds, Gorn, Orion, and Lyran ships bought over the same span do not have it. A shame as the two C8s, Tug, 3 D7s, and F5 would have gone a long way to bolster my Klingons.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

SFB - The General War: More Preparations

Well we got together over the holiday weekend, hashed out most of the details of our campaign rules, and generally got all of our ducks lined up for war.  The campaign rules are pretty simple, basically governing fleet construction, simple economics in association with construction, and whatever loose ends that we could think of.

When we did this in the mid-1980s, we didn't use a historical timeline, we just started the war full blown with all races ready to go and with technology set at about Y180.  This time we are sticking to a more historical timeline, starting with the Lyran and Kzinti empires in Y168.  Rules for fighters, PFs, evolving drone technology, etc will phase in as time passes in the game.

We rolled dice to decide who played what races, and I will be the bad guys, playing the Lyran/Klingon/Romulan/Orion Pirate fleets.  Craig will run the Hydran/Kzinit/Federation/Gorn forces.  We are old school SFB players, and decided to go with our early 1980s roots for STB, so no ISC, or other "newcomers" in this war.

I expect that we will start lighting up space in September.

Games will be played with miniatures, when we can, and counters, when we don't have the miniatures. 

Also, I will set up a Star Fleet Battles page on my blog soon, which will contain a chronological list of updates following the progress of the war.